You’re lying prone, a dentist is hovering above you, and he’s putting you in a situation where you can hardly talk or respond. That creates a lot of anxiety for some people because they don’t feel in control.” —Ellen Rodino, PhD
Sound familiar? You aren’t alone. It’s a remarkably common fear – dental phobia affects as many as 20% of Americans, causing them enough anxiety that they’ll decline going to the dentist unless it’s absolutely necessary. When they do go, it’s unlikely that their visit is a happy one.
Fortunately, there are ways to tame and even overcome these anxieties, one step at a time.
Create Positive Dental Experiences
It may be tricky, but one of the strongest ways to overcome existing dental fears and anxieties is to start creating new memories with a dentist you trust and in a practice where you feel safe. When you go to visit your dentist, be sure to talk to them about the feelings you’re having – preferably not when you’re flat on your back. Make sure they really hear what you’re saying. If the practice you currently go to doesn’t make you feel calm, and if your current dentist doesn’t listen to you, it’s time to seek out a new provider.
Take Baby Steps
Never try to tackle all your dental problems at once, especially not in an attempt to just “get over your fears” by dealing with them. If what might be a routine cleaning for some people takes 3-4 visits for you, that’s ok! Talk to your dentist, their hygienist, and any receptionists at the front desk. Figure out ways that you can break your 6-month exams into parts, and work from there.
If one of the main problems you experience while at the dentist is the overwhelming sounds, sights, and feelings going on, find ways to distract yourself from what’s going on. Take your phone or an mp3 player with you and listen to a good book or some of your favorite music. Consider learning some meditative breathing techniques and practice them while having your teeth examined.
Need more information? You can always contact us to learn more about caring for your teeth, and ways to overcome any of your own anxieties about dentistry!